Coach Says He Has Plan For Saturday's Signal-Caller Rotation Against Giants, But Is Keeping It To Himself

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Jets might have a budding backup quarterback controversy.

Todd Bowles declined to say Sunday whether Geno Smith remained the team’s No. 2 QB behind Ryan Fitzpatrick or if Bryce Petty has surpassed him on the depth chart.

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The Jets coach said earlier in training camp that there was no change in the pecking order, but Petty had a strong showing in New York’s 22-18 loss at Washington on Friday night. Meanwhile, Smith struggled in the game and appeared to perhaps lose his stranglehold on the backup job.

“I was clear about every position: 1, 2, 3, 4 going in,” Bowles said Sunday. “Until we make a change, there won’t be (a change). That’s any position. When we make a decision at the end of camp, if it changes, it changes. And if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”

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When asked specifically if the order of the depth chart remains Fitzpatrick, Smith, Petty and rookie Christian Hackenberg, Bowles was evasive.

“Right now, they’re all playing,” he said, “and we’re trying to see who sorts out what.”

Against Redskins backups and playing with the second-team offense, Smith was 6 of 13 for 47 yards and an interception. With mostly third-stringers in, Petty was 16 of 26 for 242 yards and two touchdowns.

Geno Smith looks to pass

Jets quarterback Geno Smith passes against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on Aug. 19, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

Bowles acknowledged that he has a plan for the quarterback rotation for the Jets’ third preseason game against the Giants on Saturday night, but would not say what it is.

Fitzpatrick and the starters will play a bit more in the game, the normal routine for the third preseason game. But beyond that, it’s uncertain.

“All of them have to be up to play,” Bowles said. “We have a plan for the quarterbacks that we’re not revealing. On Saturday, we’ll play the guys that we have scheduled to play. But we do have a plan to play certain people.”

Bowles was then asked if Geno Smith will be the second quarterback into the game.

“To be clear, we have a plan on who we’re going to play that we’re not going to reveal,” Bowles said.

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Smith is entering his fourth NFL season and had a mostly solid offseason and camp. But his performance, compared to that of Petty might have narrowed the gap between the two a bit.

“Off and on, missed a few throws here and there,” Smith said after the game. “But, you know, I think I fit the preseason form: get the chance to go out there, get a few series in and try to develop some chemistry with the guys. But overall, not to my standards. I think I could’ve played a lot better.”

While he likely isn’t in jeopardy to lose his roster spot since he’s the only one of the three backups with any NFL regular-season playing experience, a good performance against the Giants — whenever he gets in — would go a long way into re-establishing his position on the depth chart.

Petty had been up and down throughout the offseason and the beginning of camp, but senses a great deal of improvement from this time last year, when he was adjusting to the NFL after being a fourth-round pick out of Baylor.

“It’s hard not to laugh,” he said. “It’s great, though, because that’s kind of what I’ve wanted to do since I got here, was just progress each and every day I get out here.”

He said he could tell the difference in himself even in the organized team activities this year. That has carried over into training camp, and now into the preseason games.

“Just a lot more comfortable,” Petty said. “I’m not as antsy in the pocket, not as rushed in my thought process, which is all good.”

One of the biggest challenges for Petty was coming from a spread-type offense in college to learning how to play in Chan Gailey’s pro-style system.

“It’s still English,” he said of the transition. “It might be cursive, where spread was print, but it’s still English. … There’s definitely a transition there, but it’s definitely doable. It’s not like it’s too foreign.”

After watching the film of the game, Petty gave himself mixed reviews. There were good things, such as seeing blitzes from the defense. He acknowledged he was also slow at times at reading coverages.

One much-discussed topic among fans and media this summer has been whether the Jets will actually keep four quarterbacks on their 53-man roster. If he continues to show progression over the final two preseason games, Petty could certainly push the issue. And while he insists he doesn’t approach things that way, he acknowledges that he feels as though he’s on an audition for the Jets — and other teams who might be watching.

“I think we all are,” he said. “But, for right now, I’m right here, and this is where I want to be. So, yeah, it’s an audition for anybody watching that tape, but that is first and foremost for the Jets because I want to be here. Each day I come out here, it’s to put on a show for them.”

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